The clock didn't strike midnight on Cinderella and Manuel Torres at HITS Culpeper this weekend. The eight-year old Westphalian mare carried Torres (Leesburg, Virginia) to top honors in the $40,000 Grand Prix presented by Zoetis.
With only a handful of grand prix in her repertoire, Cinderella picked up her second high-performance blue on Sunday. "She's peaking really young," said Torres of the mare his daughter Andrea Torres Guerreiro purchased as a five-year old. "We started moving her up this year and she won her first grand prix just a few weeks ago. We couldn't be happier with how quickly she is finding success."
Torres and Cinderella bested 22 contenders over a course set by Oscar Soberon of Monterrey, Mexico. "I loved the track," said Torres. "He's [Soberon] a newcomer and I haven't seen a lot of his designs, but the size was accurate, technicality suited the field and results were perfect."
At least for Cinderella and Torres, that is, as rails fell throughout the course – which included 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts. "There were no traps, but the best horse and rider combinations rose to the top while the inexperienced ones had a good trip," added Torres.
Cinderella secured a speed round after answering Tracy Fenney's first clear aboard MTM Farm's MTM Centano. They were two of seven horses to advance to the jump-off. While Cinderella proved raw talent isn't something she lacks, Torres admits the mare requires a lot of riding. "She's sensitive and brave, but difficult to control – her first instinct is to attack the fences," he said. "She's finally learning to go fast between the jumps and to balance before take-off."
Despite a recent streak of positive momentum for Cinderella, Fenney (Flower Mound, Texas) and her seasoned gelding MTM Centano didn't exactly hand the win over. Fenney returned first in the jump-off with quick turns and remarkable speed. She stopped the clock at 38.09 seconds for the Great American Time to Beat.
Torres returned second and Cinderella matched MTM Centano stride for stride. As they approached the last fence of the jump-off it was a close call, but Cinderella broke the beam at 38.07 giving her the surprising win by two hundredths of a second.
Five remained in the jump-off but none could catch Torres or Fenney. Daniel Damen (Ocala, Florida), clear in 38.96 seconds, claimed third aboard Fons Van't Gey Zever for Chuck & Dana Waters. The fastest of the four-fault rides was Fernando Cardenas (New Hill, North Carolina) and his own Quincy Car, finishing fourth in 39.14 seconds. Damen also claimed fifth on Seth Vallhonrat's Bahrain 8 with four faults in 39.48 seconds.
After two grand prix victories early in her career, Torres has lofty goals for Cinderella. "As she gains experience, we plan to move her up to bigger grand prix and start preparing her for the Pan American Games," he said. "We've had big plans for her since she was a five-year old."
The Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix is quickly approaching and Torres will leave Cinderella, along with his young grand prix string in the barn. He does intend to travel to Saugerties, New York however for the big event, with Guerreiro and her mare Victoria. They are chasing amateur glory in the Bayer's Legend $250,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix.
Source: Press release from HITS, Inc.
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